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Whoa! We know kung fu... It's almost time for audiences to plug back into the simulation that is The Matrix franchise.
After nearly two decades, Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) will once again rage against the machines in a long-awaited sequel from director and co-writer Lana Wachowski (one of the two filmmakers behind the original groundbreaking trilogy).
With The Matrix Resurrections just a few weeks away from warping our collective sense of reality — déjà vu? nah, it's just a glitch in the Matrix; nothing to see here — we thought it was high-time to swallow the red pill and deliver a guide on everything you need to know about the fourth chapter in the dystopian sci-fi saga.
When does the movie come out?
Like all of Warner Bros.' feature-length releases for 2021, The Matrix Resurrections will open in theaters and on HBO Max at the same time on Wednesday, Dec. 22. First announced in the summer of 2019, the long-awaited sequel was originally scheduled to arrive exclusively on the big screen in late May of 2021. Of course, that became impossible when the pandemic sent the world into lockdown, forcing nearly all live-action projects to halt production indefinitely.
Filming, which first began in early 2020, resumed in late summer of the same year, with photography finally wrapping up several months later in November. In terms of real-world locations, the movie shot footage in San Francisco and Berlin. Warner Bros. briefly bumped Resurrections to spring of 2022 before moving it up to 2021 Christmas slot it now occupies.
How to watch
Like we mentioned above, the film will be available to watch in theaters or at home. If you choose to stream Resurrections, however, you will need a subscription to HBO Max (the digital streaming service owned by WarnerMedia). Plans start at $9.99 a month, though the lowest tier does come with ads. The ad-free package clocks in at $14.99 a month. Annual memberships will run you $99.99 a year or $149.99 a year. It should be noted that the major WB film releases are only available to watch via the ad-free plan. Moreover, those big titles only stay on the platform for a month before continuing out its life cycle in theaters.
Reinstalling The Matrix
For years after the release of The Matrix Revolutions, Warner Bros. regularly asked the Wachowski siblings — Lana and Lilly — to write and direct another entry in the iconic series. Despite the offer of hefty paychecks, the Wachowskis turned down the studio time and again. "It never was interesting to me as an idea of trying to continue it," Lana said over the summer.
It wasn't until the director suffered a number of tragic personal losses did she start to see a fourth Matrix movie as something she'd actually be interested in pursuing. The term "Resurrections" wasn't just a way to acknowledge the passage of time between films, it was also a way to process grief in a cathartic way.
"I didn’t really know how to process that kind of grief. I hadn’t experienced it … I knew my dad was getting sick and you know that their lives are going to end and yet, it was still really hard," Lana admitted. "My brain has always reached into my imagination and one night, I was just crying and couldn’t sleep. Suddenly, my brain exploded this whole story and I couldn’t have my mom and dad. I couldn’t talk to my mom and yet, suddenly, I had Neo and Trinity — arguably the two most important characters in my life — and it was immediately comforting to have these two characters alive again."
Lana did approach Lilly to rejoin her for Resurrections, but the latter politely declined.
"She was in art school and she was on a different path. She didn’t want to go this way to process her grief," Lana recalled. "But you know, the story evolved and I told my wife the story and she said, ‘Oh my god, you have to make it!’ I was like, ‘I can’t go back there.’ And then I asked my friends and my friends were really [involved in the] decision-making process that helped me say, ‘Ok yeah, let’s do this.’ And these people are really the reason we went back and did it again."
Fortunately, the two original leads — Reeves and Moss — were happy to come back, so long as a Wachowski was back at the helm (Lana co-wrote the film alongside Aleksandar Hemon and David Mitchell).
"I never thought that it would happen. It was never on my radar at all," Moss remarked in June of 2020. "When [the script] was brought to me in the way that it was brought to me, with incredible depth and all of the integrity and artistry that you could imagine, I was like, ‘This is a gift.’ It was just very exciting."
"To work with her again is just amazing," added Reeves. "It’s been really special, and the story has, I think, some meaningful things to say, and that we can take some nourishment from."
Wachowski serves as a producer alongside James McTeigue, and Grant Hill. Executive producers are Garrett Grant, Terry Needham, Michael Salven, Karin Wachowski, Jesse Ehrman, and Bruce Berman
0's and 1's
Specific plot details for The Matrix Resurrections are rather elusive (much like the famous woman in the red dress from the first film), but we do know that the story begins with Neo reverting back to his regular life as Thomas Anderson.
The war he helped wage against the tyrannical machines is now seemingly relegated to fleeting dreams that he recounts to his therapist (Neil Patrick Harris). It's not until he meets a blue-haired gunslinger by the name of Bugs (Jessica Henwick) does Mr. Anderson start to remember his life as humanity's savior. He reconnects with Trinity, starts to train with a younger version of Morpheus (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who takes over from Laurence Fishburne), and takes on a new Agent Smith-type antagonist (Jonathan Groff).
"Our film is so much more driven by the hope of what the world can be that it grounds it all in reality," Abdul-Mateen II told Entertainment Weekly. "Everybody's so plugged in these days. I think for a lot of reasons, it'll be a mind trip."
In addition to Neo and Trinity, Jada Pinkett Smith rounds out the collection of familiar heroes, reprising her role as Niobe from the first two sequels. Priyanka Chopra Jonas (Quantico), Christina Ricci (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles), Telma Hopkins (Dead to Me), Eréndira Ibarra (Sense8), Toby Onwumere (Empire), Max Riemelt (Sense8), and Brian J. Smith (Sense8) round out the main cast in undisclosed roles.
Behind-the-scenes, you've got cinematographers Daniele Massaccesi and John Toll; production designers Hugh Bateup and Peter Walpole; editor Joseph Jett Sally; costume designer Lindsay Pugh; visual effects supervisor Dan Glass; and composers Johnny Klimek and Tom Tykwer.